Kenneth Dion HutchinsonDecember 26, 1981 ~ October 18, 2017 (age 35)
Kenneth Dion Hutchinson was born in Chicago, IL on December 26, 1981 to Leslie and Kenneth Hutchinson.With a the high-risk pregnancy and fear of a a miscarriage Leslie would often sing and declare to her unborn son “We shall live and not die!”
Kenneth attended Goodlow Elementary School and Lindblom College Preparatory High School. Kenneth was multi-talented, and was involved in many activities including wrestling, Senior Brother’s Council, and was President of the National Honors Society. He and his future wife, LaSandra, attended high school together. Both were passionate about social justice, and together founded the Student Action Committee to advocate for student interests. Kenneth often told the story of how he remembered seeing LaSandra for the first time in their honors English class, wearing a white shirt, blue jeans, and clear plastic 90’s rings, with long wavy hair. He said he was love struck from the moment he saw LaSandra and thought to himself, “If she even flinches like she wants to be with me, it is on!” From the time they met, LaSandra and Kenneth were an inseparable team: partnering on research projects, serving together in extracurricular activities and eventually attending Northwestern University together.
At Northwestern University, Kenneth majored in Social Policy and studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa. Kenneth also co-directed Northwestern’s gospel choir, the Northwestern Community Ensemble (NCE), for three consecutive years. On June 5, 2004 -- just two weeks before their college graduation – Kenneth and LaSandra were joined in marriage. From the inception of their friendship and marriage, Kenneth and LaSandra laughed often; even during trying times they always found a reason to laugh. Their relationship ministered to onlookers and personified God’s relationship with His church, as it was grounded in sacrificial love and respect. Many close to them, as well those who only knew them online, admired their relationship and used it as an inspiration for their own marriages.
Kenneth and LaSandra’s union brought four children – Noelle (11), Bella (10), Noah (8) and Halle (6). Kenneth was devoted, loved his children dearly, and believed that his role in the family was both an honor and a ministry. He was a hands-on father who helped with homework, acted silly, sang, and discipled his children in the word of God daily. He and his children shared countless funny sayings and inside jokes. Kenneth also encouraged his children to develop their gifts and ministries. He took great pride in seeing them take steps towards God in worship because he knew the difference God had made in his own life. Although Kenneth was very active in ministry, he didn’t separate that aspect of ministry from life with his children. He was intentional about including his children when he served others, whether in church, the community, or through his vocation.
The Lord saw fit to bless Kenneth within his niche early in life. As an undergrad at Northwestern, he worked as a work-study student in Northwestern’s undergraduate admissions. This position allowed him to continue in undergraduate admissions as the Assistant Director and Co-Coordinator of African American Recruitment after graduation. There, Kenneth grew passionate about increasing college access for students from underrepresented groups. After Northwestern, Kenneth began serving as the founding Director of College Counseling for Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men - Englewood Campus.
At Urban Prep, Kenneth led college-counseling efforts and was charged with helping to ensure the school accomplished its goal of a 100% college acceptance rate for every graduate of the school. To do this, Kenneth established relationships with a wide range of constituents including community organizations, philanthropic partners, and educational institutions, and oversaw the Urban Prep summer enrichment program (Study UP). Kenneth also had a dream of sending his students all over the world, and was relentless about this goal although the idea was challenged by some colleagues. . His persistence soon paid off, as students were placed in summer enrichment programs at colleges and universities around the world, including Thailand, Argentina, Ghana, South Africa, China, Mexico, England, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.
Under Kenneth’s leadership, Urban Prep’s college counseling team annually secured over $60,000 in scholarships to support these summer enrichment opportunities under his leadership. In addition, he designed and taught a college prep curriculum for an English Composition/College Process Class. During his six years with the organization, he designed an approach to college counseling that led him to successfully achieve their goal of a 100% college acceptance rate.
Kenneth believed he was called by God to help underrepresented student groups gain access to college and be a national voice on college access. He took a personal interest in his students’ well being and strongly believed in “intrusive” college counseling. He would go to any extent to ensure his students were accepted to college and were successful. He referred to his students as his “sons”, and would often tell them, “Our success is tied.” Kenneth would often say, “I have chased gang-bangers, chauffeured students, mourned at funerals, counseled teen fathers and have been the special guest at literally hundreds of trunk parties.”
Kenneth was devoted to lifelong learning and always trying to sharpen his professional skills. He attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Urban School Leaders and graduated with a Master’s of Science and Communication from Northwestern University. He served on a variety of boards and programs in the education sector; including Penn State University’s Multicultural Resource Center’s Black Male Empowerment Group, and was a reader and National Ambassador for the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship - the most lucrative, highly selective, national scholarship for high school students at the time.
After six consecutive years of 100% college acceptance, 95% college enrollment, 18 Gates Scholars, 12 Posse scholars, and over 12 million dollars in scholarships and grants annually for young men at Urban Prep, Kenneth moved on to a new role with Cristo Rey Network in September 2015 as the Director of College Initiatives. Kenneth’s role expanded his reach across the country, as he worked with the 32 charter schools within Cristo Rey’s national-wide Network. In addition, Kenneth set a strategic vision for college counseling in schools serving low-income students. Among his greatest accomplishments was fostering a collaborative community of nearly 70 college counselors and alumni advisors, whose roles were similar to the one he previously had at Urban Prep. Through this network, he held two “Summit(s) on College Success” that brought together college counselors, alumni advisors, and university partners to think and learn together about college access for low-income students. Kenneth most recently broke new ground in designing a searchable tool that matches data on college selectivity and need-based aid, which would further college access and opportunity for underserved, minority students.
Kenneth also had many spiritual milestones throughout his life. One of his early moments included his first solo at Prayer Tabernacle Baptist Church where he sang “Jesus You’re the Center of My Joy” at the urging of his beloved grandmother, who was his biggest fan and wrote the words of the song down so he could carry them in his wallet. Kenneth was a “church” boy and enjoyed being at church and singing often. As he would testify, “One day late in October 2001…”, Kenneth was baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost at Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Church (CTAFC). He ministered through Oasis Bible Study, preaching and teaching at on a variety of college campuses including Northwestern University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, and University of Cape Coast in Ghana. In 2015, Kenneth joined All Nations Worship Assembly (ANWA) where he served on the worship team, prophetic team, and deliverance team. At ANWA, Kenneth gained greater insight and language around his gifts, and believed he was gifted with a “pastor's heart” and a “shepherding anointing.” He moved in great boldness and clarity, especially in the final two years of his life, recognizing he was on earth destined to reflect the fatherly characteristics of God and that he was “anointed for the hard cases.”
Kenneth Dion Hutchinson made his transition into eternity on Wednesday October 18th, 2017. He leaves to cherish his memory: his loving and devoted wife, LaSandra Nicole Hutchinson; one dearly loved son, Noah; three dearly loved daughters, Noelle, Bella and Halle; his dear mother, Leslie Matthews (Theodore); his loving father, Kenneth (Debra) Hutchinson; one brother, Maurice (Kemba) Hendrix; two step-brothers, Quentin Ray and Antonio Ray(Aisha) ; two sisters, Sade Hutchinson and Kendra Jenkins; his mother-in-law, Lucille (Michael) Green; one brother-in-law, Roderick Houston; three beloved nieces, Laila, Alyssa, and Jayden; and an extended family beloved aunts, uncles, and cousins.
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